The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is acting to improve the safety of hydroelectric generation projects. Hydropower regulation is the oldest area of FERC’s jurisdiction, dating back to the 1920s. The latest developments in this area of FERC regulation focus on safety.
FERC recently announced that it will hold a Technical Conference on Financial Assurance Measures for Hydroelectric Projects on April 26, 2022. The Technical Conference will address whether and how FERC should require additional financial assurance mechanisms in hydroelectric licenses and other authorizations. FERC states that the objective of such additional mechanisms would be to “ensure that licensees have the capability to carry out license requirements and, particularly, to maintain their projects in safe condition.” More information about the Technical Conference is available here and in FERC Docket No. RM21-9-000.
In a separate but related proceeding, FERC recently issued a Final Rule, Order No. 880, titled Safety of Water Power Projects and Project Works. Order No. 888 purports to “promote the safe operation, effective maintenance, and efficient repair of licensed hydroelectric projects and project works to ensure the protection of life, health, and property in surrounding communities.” It updates FERC’s hydroelectric regulations regarding project safety inspections, dam safety programs, public safety plans, and public safety incident reporting.